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1 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Poor John in the dog house

Poor John

Poor John a few days before the crime. Photo by my cousin, Colleen

I cracked an emotional this morning—that’s Aussie slang for having a temper tantrum. It wasn’t a big one, but Poor John and the fellow in the airport knew I wasn’t happy.

Earlier in the morning, we were packing our gear to head from Denver Colorado to Bogota Colombia in South America. At the last minute, I asked Poor John to pack the Vegemite in his bag—after all he had been carrying it most of the time anyway.

Vegemite is an Australia icon. It’s also one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods. I happen to love it. It’s a savoury breakfast spread/paste, made from yeast extract and tasting quite salty. It looks gross—like black–brown shoe polish—but you only need the slightest little bit to transform a piece of toast. I love it spread ever-so-thinly on toast with sliced tomato and cheese. Poor John likes it okay, but nowhere near as much as me.

So what was the problem today? Poor John packed my precious Vegemite—the jar that we had already carried for seven weeks—in his carry-on pack.

My heart sank when they pulled him over at security. I just knew it was the Vegemite. I hadn’t noticed that he packed it in carry-on, but I still knew it was doomed.

The security guy didn’t know what Vegemite was—it’s not a gel or a liquid I said—but he sure wasn’t going to let it through. He was nice about it, even apologetic. He said we could take the bag back and check it in, but that’s not an option if you’ll miss your flight. I could tell he felt bad, but I figured some of his concern was directed at the fellow (Poor John) I clearly wanted to throttle.

It was only after I stamped away from the counter that I thought to ask if he’d have let peanut butter through. Vegemite is the same principle. Does anyone know if peanut butter gets allowed through?

Anyway, I begged the guy not to destroy it. ‘It’s precious stuff. Ask around and give it to someone who’s been to Australia,’ I said. But he assured me it would go in the bin. What a heartbreaking waste.

I was pretty dark for the next couple of hours. Good grief, Poor John is a seasoned traveller and surely knew better than to pack it in carry-on.

I’m mostly over it now—this public whinge (complaint) sure helps. But four months without Vegemite will be quite depressing. I took one jar through Asia (seven months) and three jars to Africa (one year). In our last little bit of travel in Africa, I gave the limited remains of the third jar to a group of young Aussie backpackers. They were over the moon and I felt like a fairy godmother.


Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Sep 1 2012 8:49 pm

    Oh Peggy! How will you survive? No Vegemite for an extended period. I didn’t even realise that you love the stuff. I gave it up a long time ago because of the salt content. Now I eat Promite. I’m sure that doesn’t help though. Damn those pesky Americans! Have you thought up a big list of things Poor John can do to attempt to make up for this? Maybe there will be other Australians on the trip and they’ll have Vegemite.

    Take care.



    • leggypeggy / Sep 1 2012 10:38 pm

      Thanks Louise for the understanding. The guy at security was just doing his job, but my parting shot was, as I pointed to Poor John, ‘he may pay for this for a long time.’ 🙂


  2. Troy / Sep 1 2012 10:40 pm

    That stuff is nasty-horrible Peggy. But I’m sure if you can plan ahead enough to know where you are going to be in 3 weeks time, you could have some shipped to a general delivery address. Otherwise, you will just love it all the more when you get back with all that deprivation under your belt.


    • leggypeggy / Sep 1 2012 10:43 pm

      Thanks Troy, I think deprivation is going to be the case. I’m tough. I’ll survive. I hope. 🙂


  3. Carol Croce / Sep 2 2012 12:19 am

    My sympathies Peggy. I, too, love my Vegemite and I have been traveling with a tube I picked up at Sydney Airport on the way out. The clerk at duty free was kind enough to point out that it was too large a quantity to carry through US security so once I got to Dallas, I put it in my checked luggage during customs before heading for my domestic flight to Denver. Maybe you will stumble acrss some interntational food shop in your travels where you can find some Vegemite. Or perhaps beg the Aussie consulate somewhere? Surely they have it shipped in rather than have their staff go through the shakes of windrawl.


    • leggypeggy / Sep 2 2012 11:29 am

      Thanks Carol, I’ve been thinking about checking with Aussie embassies. Maybe I’ll have time in Quito. Now to check whether there’s an embassy in Quito!


  4. leslieandwayne / Sep 2 2012 1:07 am

    If you do end up knowing an address ahead of time Peggy, let us know. Wayne and I would be happy to send some down. We’ve both been loving your blog and get a great giggle from all of your adventures. Poor John! 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Sep 2 2012 11:27 am

      Rumour has it there is another Aussie on the trip bringing Vegemite. I hope they share. And I wouldn’t have a clue about an address. Keep giggling.


  5. leslieandwayne / Sep 2 2012 3:14 am

    Poor John! And now Poor Peggy!


    • leggypeggy / Sep 2 2012 11:26 am

      Oh yikes, I didn’t think of it quite that way. Thanks for the sympathy.


  6. Colleen Jury / Sep 2 2012 4:02 am

    Peanut butter doesn’t fare any better, nor do homemade jams or jellies that someone’s granny put up. Son Dutch carried a warehouse sized container of peanut butter to his girlfriend in Spain, it made it through US TSA security, but the eagle-eyed constables at Heathrow threw it ‘straight into the bin’. In front of her eyes…she was a wreck.


    • leggypeggy / Sep 2 2012 11:11 am

      Thanks Colleen, at least I know peanut butter is ‘out’ too. It really is like being stabbed.
      I can, however, pass on a recipe for homemade peanut butter. Put as many cups of roasted unsalted peanuts in a food processor, add up to 1/4 cup of oil (peanut is probably best) and half a teaspoon of salt. Process. You can always add more salt and oil if needed.


  7. Robyn / Sep 2 2012 10:12 am

    Hi Peggy, there is another Australian on the trip who has packed the brown stuff and who is happy to share, or there might be a South American equivalent and you might become a convert, only to suffer withdrawal symptoms where you return to Canberra! Anyway, am sure that you and John will have a really interesting trip and I look forward to reading all about it. Have fun, Robyn


    • leggypeggy / Sep 2 2012 10:55 am

      Hi Robyn, I was rather hoping another Aussie would turn up with some Vegemite. I’ll keep you posted. It’s been interesting entertaining ourselves for five weeks.


  8. Sy S/ / Sep 3 2012 12:40 pm

    Hello Peggy,

    I love salty foods, but do not no not do not care for Vegemite/Marmite. Over here in Metro NYC and in the grocery stores that favor Irish Food Products, you can find Marmite… which I believe is very similar to Vegemite… so in your travels check out Australian and Irish/gourmet food stores.
    Googling- Marmite-The British version of the product is a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty. This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company’s marketing slogan: “Love it or hate it.” Other similar products are the Australian Vegemite and AussieMite, the Swiss Cenovis and the German Vitam-R.

    Good Vegemite luck with sharing some with your Australian travel friends..



    • leggypeggy / Sep 3 2012 12:55 pm

      Hi Sy! Thanks for the good wishes. Vegemite and Marmite are similar, but different. I’m not keen on Marmite and would never bother to carry it travelling. Not keen on Promite either. But the slogan is right for all of them—love it or hate it. 🙂 Each one has its devotees.
      I’m sure South America will offer up all sorts of delicacies that will temporarily dampen my memory of the good old Vegemite.
      But now is time for the confession. As much as I love Vegemite, I really can survive without it when I have to, but I also have to needle Poor John as much as I can on the rare occasions that I have even the slightest upper-hand. Now don’t tell him I said that!



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